Volunteer at an Animal Rescue Center in Costa Rica

This program has been paused and is currently not being offered. View more programs from Greenheart Travel.

Video and Photos


Based on a private ecological reserve in the rainforests of northern Costa Rica, this Eco-Reserve and Animal Rescue Center was founded to give endangered, injured and abandoned animals a home. Volunteers a the project focus on rehabilitating animals and releasing the back into the wild.

Volunteers will have a chance to help:
-- Feed, observe and administer general care to animals
-- With various conservation projects
-- Work in the greenhouse
-- Maintain trails on the reserve
-- With construction of new habits
-- With community outreach efforts in the area

  • Accommodation with a host family and meals included during your volunteer program
  • Start dates are year round, and programs can last from 1 week - 12 weeks
  • Group volunteer opportunities available
  • Each volunteer has a personal program manager to help before, during and after your program
  • Spanish lessons available on-site for additional cost

Questions & Answers

Hi, great question! You don't need any prior knowledge about animal care. Just yourself and enthusiasm about making a difference :)

For someone who speaks absolutely no Spanish it may be fairly difficult. However, it depends on how courageous and willing they are to be out of their element. My host family spoke absolutely no English. I lucked out and for the first half of my time I spent with my host family there was another person doing the same program. She was fluent in Spanish and would translate everything for me. For the...


9.69 Rating
based on 13 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 92.31%
  • 7-8 rating 7.69%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Impact 9.5
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 8.5
  • Value 8.8
  • Safety 9.5
Showing 1 - 8 of 13
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Definitely would go again but...

I would definitely would go again. However, they failed to take me on the excursion just because I was the only one that volunteered that week. Although there was barely any one that spoke English, I had a good experience. I loved my host family. Everyone I met seemed really nice and taught me a lot. I would recommend knowing how to speak Spanish fluently in order to go on this trip. I would also like to say this was my first time going abroad by myself and I was 14 years old. I could of used some more people that spoke English.

What would you improve about this program?
Make sure they include everything you are paying for.
1 person found this review helpful.
Yes, I recommend this program

Proyecto Asis

When I first arrived, I was nervous and way too on guard. Everyone involved in the program was friendly and helpful, and allowed me to trust everything in this program. Within my first few days, I felt completely at home, and was adjusted to the culture. Everyone was super friendly, and we had a lot of free time to explore and spend time with the family and friends we had. I really felt like i was making a difference at the animal shelter, which was awesome. Over the weekends, there is an opportunity to go on excursions and explore the city. I hiked, kayaked, and visited hot springs. This experience is what made the trip so unforgettable, but it would have been helpful to know the prices and details of these excursions beforehand. Overall great trip, and I would definitely go back.

What would you improve about this program?
Being able to talk with the host family beforehand, more details about side excursions
1 person found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program


I went my junior summer of high school, and coming back to my senior year, everything was different. This program had a big enough impact for me to change my major and college choices. The people (Rosi and her family in particular) are the NICEST, most caring people I have ever met. Also, working one on one with the animals and staff really gives you a new perspective on things.

What would you improve about this program?
I would only change the cost!
1 person found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

animal rescue and rehab review

This trip was an amazing experience. From trying to converse with my host family, to joking with Teniente our boss and just hanging with the other volunteers and doing cool things like visiting the beach on the weekends I had a spectacular time.

1 person found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Pura Vida

They say Pura Vida (Pure Life) a lot in Costa Rica...and it's no joke. My experience in Costa Rica was just utterly amazing and I completely fell in love with this little Central American country and Proyecto Asis. I would highly recommend it. Why?

First of all the country. It's a lot different from Western society (in a good way), the houses are small and feel very homely, the roads are mad and chaotic, the food is simple but very delicious (and YES they do eat a lot of rice and beans!!!) and the colours are so bright and vibrant. Moreover, the landscape their just takes your breath away. Costa Rica is worth going just to see the place. Second, the people. The 'Ticos' are beautiful people, they are so chilled, so friendly and so happy. It's a very positive place and I had SO much fun and banter with these people. They live simply, they make do and mend, they are self-sustained, there's a lot we in the Western world could learn from them.

The third reason to go would be for the project and experience of living with a host family. I gained a new family in Costa Rica and I just loved living a whole month with them. At first it's scary, if you're Spanish isn't great (like mine WAS) then it's hard to communicate, but bring them a present and some photos of home, really try to communicate to them and try out their way of life and you'll have a great time. I learnt a lot of about myself and how we lived life back home staying with my family and I think it's a really useful experience. And don't scared, they're all incredibly friendly but most of all they cook you all your food - I can't tell how good a cook my host Mum was! - clean all your clothes, talk to you lots if you talk to them and by the end of your time they'll probably be sadder than you when you leave them! All the host families I came across had had many students before them and knew what they're were doing.

Proyecto Asis, where you'll be working, is brilliant. And now is a great time to go. They're expanding the project, it looks really modern and slick and it's really well run and looked after. The animals are SO much fun and the types they have there are phenomenal - animals I never expected to see in my life! Tucans, Macaws, Sloths, Spider Monkeys, White Faced Monkeys and Hummingbirds are just some of the animals they have there. The first week I was there I couldn't stop thinking how lucky I was to have this 'job'. The job includes mostly cleaning cages, which can actually be fun as you go inside and they start jumping on you and playing with your hair etc, however, we also deep cleaned some, built bridges, transported materials, painted cages, fed animals. It's pretty darn cool! They're doing a really good job at taking in, re-habiliting and then releasing these animals into the wild again. However, what makes Proyecto is the people. Meeting other volunteers is good fun and you will have a good laugh together. One thing I learnt though was to go in June/July as not many people volunteer in August when I went and so it got dull at times. The Ticos at the project are LEGENDS! Look out for these names: Teniente, Ruben, Carlos, Maria Laina and Gonzalo. Trust me, some of the coolest people you will ever meet and they make your work so enjoyable - especially Teniente the man who's in charge of you. Have fun with them and they'll have fun with you. The managers of the place Adriana and Alvero are really helpful, they help you plan your weekends - my weekends including white water rafting, kayaking, hanging canopy bridges and a weekend at the beach!!! - sort any problems you're having and you can ask them about anything basically.

Fourthly if you're looking to improve your Spanish, providing you give it a go, this will happen. Don't expect instant results (like I did), give it time or 'un poco a poco' as they told me, and eventually you'll be having proper conversations with them. It all depends on what level you're at before you go so try to learn as much as you can.

That's it I think. Any tips I would offer would be:
- 3 weeks is the optimum amount of time before you start maybe getting sick of the food or get bored of the routine or really miss home.
- Learn as much Spanish as you can before you go and read about the country/culture.
- Be open minded! Give everything ago. And don't panic/be terrified. Have faith, it's not as backwards a country as you think it is.
- Take a camera, dictionary, sun cream, insect repellent and itch cream. Take summer clothing; you will only be wearing tank tops, a baseball cap, shorts and flip-flops in your free time. Although take crappy clothing for excursions and working at Proyecto - you WILL get very dirty and smelly!
- Get ready for a different life, a different routine, a different climate and different food. But don't be scared of that, embrace it, it's actually really cool to experience.
- Try not to limit yourself with money. There are some really cool experiences on offer and perhaps you'll never get the chance to do them again, take the opportunity!


What would you improve about this program?
The programme isn't flawless. For example they don't tell you ANYTHING about your host family, the area you're staying in or any other volunteers you'll be going with which doesn't help the nerves. My knowledge about the project itself was limited and the photos they gave me were old and not very explanatory.

They don't tell you how much money to bring or how much you'll probably spend. Estimates could have been useful for a lot of the volunteers. Nor do they tell you very well how far away things are for weekend entertainment or how often the buses come (only every 1.5-2.5 hours).

Pre-arrival information was good, but I'm from the UK and we had to call a lot of times to Greenheart to check things like do I need X and will Y happen for example. Actual examples included we almost didn't realise we needed a ESTA form, and I didn't know about my arrangements from the airport to my hotel, and then from there to the Proyecto. Also, we found it hard to understand how to call Greenheart as all these toll numbers and international numbers etc were confusing, just tell it simply what you need to do!
1 person found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

I had a great time!

I had such an amazing time in Costa Rica! I got to experience new things and try new foods. I got to go on excursions like white water rafting, ziplining, and I got to see a waterfall. I also enjoyed getting to go to La Fortuna.

What would you improve about this program?
I would change the price, when I first heard that it cost around $2000 to go, I thought an airplane ticket would be included. I felt like that was a lot of money to go and volunteer.
2 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Important work and a wonderful experience

This trip to Costa Rica was my first time traveling alone AND my first trip outside of my own country. I stayed for one week--from July 28th to August 3rd. I was terrified beforehand but really shouldn't have been. The staff and people are all so friendly and helpful, and I rarely felt overwhelmed or lost. This program is a perfect blend of meaningful work, cultural immersion, and fun activities.

The work itself ranges from feeding and cuddling baby porcupines or possums to mixing concrete to build stairs, from cleaning cages to chopping up food for the animals. Along the way you learn a lot about the issues that face wildlife in Costa Rica, and you learn why each of the animals are there. We usually kept relatively busy, but it wasn't as structured as I expected, and we often had to just wander around looking for a staff person to tell us what to do. But whenever we weren't working we could just play with the monkeys or explore the project. Anyway, it was really important work and fun to do.

I also learned a lot about the culture. Staying with a host family was so rewarding. During my stay I had long conversations about Costa Rica and its people, witnessed lots of soccer games in the backyard, and attended a service for the Day of La Virgen de Los Angeles. My Spanish also improved rapidly--I was using it all the time except with other volunteers, which was incredibly cool! Many staff members and host families speak no English at all, so I definitely definitely stress the importance of knowing at least intermediate Spanish before coming on this trip--especially when traveling away from the project.

The staff is also very willing to, among other things, plan weekend excursions for you--anything from zip lining to rafting to visiting hot springs. I had a great time doing a canopy tour in La Fortuna with other volunteers, arranged at the front desk of the project.

I never had a boring moment during my short stay in Costa Rica. Even if you didn't have something structured to go do, it was always fun to just explore or talk with the locals or your other volunteers. It's a breathtakingly beautiful place, really important work, tons of fun, and a fascinating experience. I always felt safe too. I recommend this trip to anyone as long as they're reasonably adaptable and love nature. As you can see, I was only there for a week and I can't shut up about it.

2 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Loved it!!

This program was really just amazing for me. I met so many great charismatic people all over the States & Canada, not to mention the wonderful staff! It was also an experience stock full of hands on working with the animals and being able to interact with them and learn about them. Honestly I wish I could have stayed longer, two weeks was not enough.

1 person found this review helpful.